Friday, December 29, 2006

Talkin' Kendall

James Farmer is a Poly graduate, about 3-4 years older than us who has known Kendall a long time.  His dad coached the Baptist Church baseball team on which Kendall found his first athletic success and stardom.  The conversation that follows is a good example of some exchanges that can occur occasionally in Facebook and result in a good information transfer.  James taught school in Ft. Worth for 40-years, some of them with Kendall in the early years.  His recollections actually start just after we left EH for the next chapter...they stayed in Ft. Worth.

Another eccentric, colorful, talented, intelligent person I've been blessed to have as a friend for almost six decades is Kendall McCook. Kendall is a teacher, writer, poet, activist, and great friend. Our adventures over the years are things of legend and mythology. He continues to write and do poetry readings. He was a big inspiration for me as a writer when we were young men. I appreciate his big heart and passion for life and learning.

Gus Highlander Of all the pictures made of the wizened '63 Highlanders at our 50th last year, Kendall's was the finest character a long margin.

  • James Farmer Wow! Great photo, Gus. Really about the most realistic and good quality of Kendall I've seen in years. No doubt, Kendall has that "character" look about him. If I could use fictional characters and slip the story in as fiction, I'd write a book about our adventures together over the years. It is not to be believed anyhow. Maybe if I live long enough I'll do that.

Gus Highlander One of my closer confidants thought him remote and difficult to engage at this event and I found him moderately so the last time I spoke with him, 30-years ago. He's probably one of a handful of '63s that, upon leaving EH for the rest of my life, combined to leave me with a lingering sense of, what the heck was that all about?

He'll be a key player in an upcoming blog piece I’ve tentatively entitled, “The He-Man Woman Haters Club” telling of our early trek into the mysteries of finding high school romance. I don’t think it worked out well for anyone and it ended up killing one of us—almost 30-years later. Such were the tribulations of trying to get our young wheels securely on the track.

His brother, Danny, was a great early contributor to the blog and forwarded me this 2009 Kendall piece about his EH friends. The quality of his writing blew me away as I hadn’t recalled him having exceptional skills in that area from my EH days with him. You may have already read this one…I’d like to have more from him for the blog. Kick him in the tail for me and see if you can help work that out. I’m sure his recollections combined with his writing skill would be priceless.

James Farmer Gus...I really relate to your comments and I must say that I appreciate your honesty and even-handiness in your perspective about Kendall. I love him like a brother so it is not within my abilities to be even in all that. I've almost died with him and lived on mountain tops with him. In fact, many parts of that wonderful piece he wrote in your blog there I was part of the crowd and saw it first hand. I decided a long time ago that you can't like Kendall. You have to love him. He is a very fine writer BTW and I will say a word to him about some contributions. He needs to do that and I appreciate your invitation. I knew Carol, his first wife, very well. Was there from the beginning to the bitter end of that. I also have known Ginny his wife now for many years. I met her when we were teaching at Dunbar High together in '74. She is a jewel of a person. Very intelligent and successful in her own right as an educator and administrator and wife and mother and grandmother. Beautiful person. I was around those people you went to school with a great deal and knew some of them all through the years including McCoy, Leo, Bob Dillard, Larry Guthrie, Paul Tate. I've always considered them to be a special group of people even with all the human flaws that went with the territory. They sure kept me on my toes back in the day. I appreciate being able to converse about these things now with you.

Gus Highlander Doing the blog in the manner I've chosen, an "anonymous Boswell" as one (very intelligent) old friend terms it, has enabled me to connect with members of several classes either side of ours while eliminating possible reticence resulting from those old EH perceptions. It seems to leave folks free to speak their minds without pulling punches and has yielded some fine, honest insights. The '63 crew you knew, really were an exceptional group of boys; their commonalities being, humor, intelligence, lively personalities, and some credible athleticism. They were a tough group to compete with in all areas of school activity and they were well liked. One top member of our trailing class of '64 termed them, "The Rat Pack." And that's probably an accurate description.

James Farmer I do understand how powerful the group of them were and always felt like an outsider that was allowed to hang around the periphery with them. They knew Kendall and I were close so I was accepted. McCoy was employed in the food and beverage at Colonial and he got several of us employed parking cars up at TCU parking for the bus ride down to the course. It was a gravy job. Guthrie, Tate, Kendall, I think Leo was there. Not sure who else. It was a riot from day one. We had fun, ate a lot of sandwiches which were sent up to us, got tips for guiding people into a parking place, and I was entertained by the wild and crazy antics of Guthrie and Tate. Both of those guys went on to PhD's and college professorships later. But, we were young and dumb and bullet proof. Growing up hasn't been easy for any of that group or for me. Life can dish it out to all of us and usually does at some point in time. I enjoy your blog so very much. It is a good even handed look at things I do believe. It is thought provoking also.


Gus Highlander It's interesting to connect with someone who has had a similar experience or has observed a similar situation such as the one we're discussing. Your description of being let into the gang but always feeling like a peripheral associate very accurately describes my feeling while I was with them. My tenure with them started in the 8th grade but tentative acceptance was slow in coming and may have not come until well into the 9th grade or even the 10th.

It apparently took the sponsorship of one of them who found you a worthy friend to achieve an introduction and ultimately an acceptance into their circle. Kendall brought you in while another guy brought me in. I’m sure it was an ad hoc situation. The group changed over the time I knew them and apparently settled into its final or mature form you recall and Kendall writes about. Clearly, the original spark plugs of that group were those you knew and who remained tightly bound for much of their lives.

I think retirements from the crew were precipitated by 3 things: pairing off with a girlfriend; pursuing football interests rather than basketball (Larmer, Dillard, McCook were varsity basketball players); and finally, going away to school after EH. Most of those guys were together as early as the 6th and 7th grades; a couple of them, Tate and Larmer, went all the way back to 1st grade.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mrs. Joyce Calhoun

Here is my vote for one of the most influential EHHS teachers in my life. Mrs. Joyce Calhoun. She was a fairly obscure typing teacher and maybe of some other office-related subjects that I no longer recall—if ever I knew what they might have been. During my secondary education my father made but one academic recommendation that I clearly recall and that was to be sure to take a typing course.

I think it was about the Junior year that I took Mrs. Calhoun’s one-semester typing course. The room was filled with older manual typewriters and about 4 IBM Selectrics with that neat little ball head. Everyone wanted the electrics, but there were only four. Beyond the endless, “fgf, fgf, fgf, fgf, and jhj, jhj, jhj, jhj,” exercises and some timed typing speed tests, I remember little about the course. However, it’s the few things that I do remember that made a huge difference in my life.

Mrs. Calhoun encouraged us to be neat and accurate with our typing work. She said, “That letter or paper you submit for someone else to read will represent you. Be sure that it represents how you want to be viewed.” For some reason her words stuck in my head and all during my adult life I have been very careful to make sure my written work is correct and represents how I want myself to be viewed. That’s a powerful lesson to have emanated from one obscure typing teacher.

There is one other important thing that taking the obscure Mrs. Calhoun’s obscure typing class yielded. When typewriters gave way to computers and printers, for me and I’m sure for many others who had learned touch typing, the transition to computer keyboards was seamless. Not so for those who never took that little typing course. Over the years I have seen many very talented people who never learned how to type, struggle with how to get along with their computers—top level engineers reduced to a hunt and peck keyboard entry style and such. Contrast that with someone who can type at 40-60+ words per minute and you can see how the difference in productivity can be striking.

Thanks for the advice, Dad. Thanks for the course, Mrs. Calhoun.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Coaches

George Mitcham, James Willingham, and Dub Graves were the entire coaching staff for Varsity football during our years at EHHS. Coach Willingham also coached the track team, and Coach Graves coached baseball. Ron McBee was the basketball team coach and also coached the JV football teams. Johnny Howerton replaced McBee sometime during our years at EHHS, as McBee went to another job—building houses, I think.

Mitcham was a quiet spoken, not too forceful type, while we nicknamed Willingham, Coach Roaringham. He had a booming, raspy voice that he relied on for crowd control. Graves was the jock of the trio, as he had an athletic build and kept himself in top physical shape while the others seemed to be trending into the more sedate life style of married life. They were married, Graves was not.

In reading the 1962 football brochure, I see that Mitcham and Graves graduated from Poly the same year, so they must have played on the same football team about 1945 or 1946. Both of them were All-District backs. That’s odd. I recall them as not being very close. Mitcham had the bearing of an organization manager, while Graves did not. However, Graves was the better athlete. Willingham seemed unfazed by either of them and simply went about his business coaching the lines. They were all good coaches and good examples.

During our Senior year, the school’s 4th, we won the district football championship, the first in the school’s then short history, and posted a 7-4 overall won-lost record. To say we had no offense would be an understatement. Our total season scoring averaged about 1-point more per game than we allowed our opponents. We had a good defense, though—some of our opponents had very good offenses that could have posted some very high scores were it not for our good defense.

During our football season, the Cuban Missile Crisis played out. I vaguely recall some of the girls rushing about, half in earnest, looking for a quickie marriage, I suppose not wanting to . . . well, if you were watching the news then, it did appear that we might not survive much longer and they probably felt that some things postponed, needed to be done. One of my neighbors was recalled with his Army Reserve unit and shipped to Florida for several months as part of a potential invasion force. I think there were about 100,000 of our soldiers assembled in south Florida that fall.

While not coaching, Mitcham watched over some study halls, Willingham taught American History, and Graves watched over some P.E. classes. Coach Graves might have been pressed into teaching some history as well—I don’t recall for certain.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Dub Graves

Was there ever anyone as cool as Dub Graves? With a build sporting a six-pack before some of us knew what to call it, Coach Graves was a tanned, muscular Adonis who moved about our hallways with us. Always in good humor, his attitude seemed to radiate the fact that he loved his job and his life.

And why not? Dub Graves turned 34 during our senior year and was still single, although he never seemed to lack for female company. Could anyone ever forget that fine ’56 or ’57 turquoise T-Bird convertible, often with a hot blonde seat cover? I have no idea where he lived, but I think it was on the West Side. During the summer he could sometimes be seen out on Eagle Mountain Lake working on both his wooden Chris-Craft, and on his tan. Those who saw him at our 20th reunion saw a white haired version of an older Adonis, still full of it.

As a coach, he was far and away the best athlete on the coaching staff. As a teacher of American History, I would have to venture a guess . . . not as good as Mr. Sills. Dub was also one of the P.E. teachers and if I were to venture another guess . . . he didn’t like that too much. I think he much preferred to coach the school’s athletic teams. To amuse himself during our senior year, he instituted the “Tough Tail” contest in his P.E. classes. This contest established an award of sorts, for the guy that took the most licks during a semester. I don’t know how long that went on, but was always surprised that it drew some active “competition” for the trophy.

During the 1950’s, Dub had flirted with a professional baseball career, and had been a varsity back with the University of Tulsa football team. He was a favorite of Principal Roy Johnson from some previous school district assignment they both held, I don’t know what jobs Dub held after we left, but by the time we held our 20th reunion in 1983, he was in public relations for the teacher’s credit union. He was an interesting character.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

EHHS Social Order - Cliques or Clicks Article

Click or Clique: Positive and Negative Teen Social Groups

By Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

It’s perfectly normal: Preteens and teens group together and often hang on tight. As they push for increasing independence from their parents, they turn to their peers for guidance, acceptance, and security. Safety, for those whose self-esteem and self-confidence is still shaky, lies in fitting in and having a place to belong. Most kids find a group with whom they “click” in a healthy way. Others get swept up in a “clique” that does give them some security but at the price of their individuality and maybe even their values.



Friend groups made up of kids who “click” are usually healthy. Kids who find each other through a common interest and positive shared values can offer each other a “home base” during the teen years. Healthy friend groups don’t need everyone to be exactly the same. People in healthy friend groups are there for each other, go to each other’s special events, support each other through hard times, and let people be individuals.

Ariel has been part of the same friend group since third grade when she and four others were assigned a special project. They immediately clicked. Hanging out at school expanded into hanging out after school and on weekends. Ariel and one of the other girls joined a local theater group. Two others are on the field hockey team. Three of the girls spend lots of time at the dance studio. They like the friends they meet at their other activities too. But in the school halls, they like to touch base with each other. “The best part of my group,” says Ari, “is that I don’t have to feel like I’m being disloyal if I want to spend time with my theater buddies or if I want to bring someone along if we’re meeting up after school. But the friends in my group are the people who know me best. They’re the people I look for when I’m having a crisis.”

Shari agrees. “If we were all doing the same thing all the time, we wouldn’t have as much to talk about.” This group is open to new experiences and new people. They don’t need to cling together to feel okay but they are really glad that they have a place where they can be totally themselves.



Cliques aren’t necessarily made up of people who click. These groups aren’t brought together by a genuine interest in each other. Instead, they are organized around power and popularity. Leaders of such groups often are charismatic and controlling. Members of the group rely on exclusivity and very strict internal codes to establish and maintain the idea that they are something special. They do everything together and have no tolerance for any member branching out to friends outside the group.

The secret that these groups don’t want anyone else to discover is that most of the members are terribly insecure. Lacking the self-esteem and confidence to be their own person, each instead relies on the membership in an exclusive club for her or his identity.

The problem with this strategy is that the group can easily take that identity away. It’s not unusual for a clique to turn on a member for some real or imagined challenge to either the values or the leadership of the group. No one wants to be that girl or that guy who is evicted from the group. Conformity to the whims of the leaders is the price paid for membership.

Sam is a girl who is used to being one of the popular kids. For the past two years, she’s hung out with the most popular girls in school. Everyone knows who they are. They all have the same “look,” a kind of studied casualness: name-brand jeans, sleek tops, cropped jackets. They sit together in the lunchroom and hang out together in the halls. They’re known for making critical comments about other people’s dress, hair styles, or even their jobs. (Working retail is cool; waitressing definitely is not.) This is the stuff that makes for mean girls or mean guys. By picking on or bullying others who look different, who like different things, or have different values, the clique maintains their exclusivity and the illusion of their superiority.

Life changed for Sam when she fell for a guy the group decided wasn’t “cool.” Paired up in biology lab, the two found that they liked the same music and had the same cynical humor. It was like at first sight. “The last couple of months has been wonderful and awful,” says Sam. “The relationship with my boyfriend is something special. But the group isn’t even interested in knowing what he’s like. He’s really, really sweet and they just rode him and me. I finally had enough but it’s been hell. I thought those girls were my friends but I just have to get away from them now. I’m a senior and and everyone’s got their friends. If it weren’t for my boyfriend, I’d have nobody.”

Sam has had to rethink all of her ideas about who her real friends are. She was already getting impatient with the conformity required of her clique but she thought they liked her enough to be happy for her new relationship. She wasn’t prepared for the insults that came with asserting herself. “I went home crying for weeks, ” she says. “But I finally figured out that I have a right to be myself, not just what the group wants me to be. My boyfriend and his friends are really funny and laid back. I never realized how much pressure it was to be in with my clique.”

What are the essential differences between a healthy friend group that clicks and the group that is a clique? Take a look at this comparison:

People who are drawn together by a mutual interest or value system
People who are drawn together by the need to be special and popular.
Members are encouraged to have other friends too and to introduce new members into the group
Members may only be friends with each other and are discouraged from bringing new members into the group – unless the new person adds to the groups "coolness" factor
Individual members are supported in their individual interests by the group. Group members celebrate each other’s individual successes.
Members are discouraged from being involved in anything that takes time and attention away from the group.
Members are valued for their individuality.
Members must conform to the group’s idea of what is cool dress and cool behavior
Natural leaders may emerge but the leaders don’t need to be in charge to feel good about themselves. They are happy to have others take on leadership as well.
The leader(s) hold on tight to their leadership role and exclude anyone from the group who might threaten that position.
If people are sometimes crabby or mean, it’s just because they are having a bad day.
If people are mean, it’s meant to reinforce the idea that the group is exclusive and superior.

Teens who find a friend group that “clicks” grow into adults with a healthy self-esteem. They know how to make solid relationships with people who can be there for each other through good times and bad. Teens whose only social group is a clique are often insecure in their relationships and lack the self-confidence to assert their creativity or individuality. Fortunately, many do grow out of the need for superiority and artificial popularity once they get out of high school. Others continue to hang their identity on being better than the next person and are mystified that they can’t find mutually trusting relationships.


How a parent can help

How can a parent help kids find other kids who “click” and stay away from the “cliques”? It starts way before the teen years. As with most things, helping kids develop the social skills and self-confidence needed to find a healthy friend group takes some parental effort. Good modeling, opportunities to develop healthy interests and relationships, and good values are the keys.
  • Model diversity in your own friendships. Talk about how knowing different kinds of people enriches your life in different ways.
  • Help your child develop good social skills. Kids who know how to be a good friend are kids who attract healthy friendships.
  • Foster empathy skills. Kids who can walk in another’s shoes are not likely to participate in hurting or bullying others. (See: Manners to Empathy: Faking it is a place to Start.)
  • Follow your kid’s lead in finding the activity or sport that they are passionate about. Good friendships often develop from participating in a shared interest.
  • Help your child develop a mind of his or her own. Kids who have confidence in their own values are less likely to fall in with the crowd. Encourage assertiveness about the things that matter.
  • If your child does fall into a clique, don’t be critical of the “friends.” Do be critical of any mean behavior. Go to the root of the problem and talk to your young person about what she or he is getting out of being in a group that won’t let people be who they are and whose popularity depends on putting other people down.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Susan Begley & Carol Reeder

“When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.” --Albert Einstein

I was digging through the EHHS website not long ago and found a section about school history and traditions. There were some pictures of the school as it was being built and some other pages describing the school’s history. It’s kind of sobering to be considered a part of history on a website, yet interesting in a way—you are still here to see if they are getting it right. I remember going to that school when it looked like it did in those old historic pictures! To tell you the truth, it doesn’t seem that long ago.

One of the “history” pages outlined the tradition of the Miss “Big E” beauty pageant. There is long list of the winners since 1961 when 62 Highlander, Darla Houlihan won the first title. I don’t think we called the winner, “Miss Big E” though. She might have taken offense at the use of "big" in conjunction with being named the winner. Our class yearbooks simply refer to the winners as the Big “E” pageant winner. There is a difference, don't you agree?

The Big “E” winners I recall most clearly were Carol Reeder and Susan Begley who won the pageant in 1962 and 1963, respectively. It’s a bit of a shock to see a list of 40 or more Big “E” winners following Carol and Susan’s names. I knew them both and to this day would be pressed to name two more beautiful ladies. They were gracious, soft spoken, very intelligent, and any lad would have been considered lucky to date them. I think there were only a couple of lads that did date them. They were lucky lads.

After we left EHHS, the wider world opened up and there were other attractive girls to appreciate, but I never forgot Carol and Susan. They were really beautiful girls who, I believe set a very high standard for those that followed them at EHHS.

In addition to winning the Big “E” beauty pageant, each of them was elected Football Queen during their senior years. That was probably a purer vote than the Big “E” judges’ tally since only members of the football teams cast those votes. Evening gown and talent competitions were not required for that honor.

Remerciez heaven de jolies filles.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Ex-CBI Roundup
March 1969 Issue
By Joseph N. Mackrell, Jr.

Responding to your request concerning information covering units stationed in the CBI Theater, I have gathered together some facts, pictures and a lot of memory searching about the 6th Squadron, 1st Ferry Group, India-China Wing of the Air Transport Command (ATC).

It covers the period of time from March 8, 1942, at Fort Bragg, N.C., to February 1944 when I returned to the States.

To the best of my knowledge the 1st Ferry Group was formed at a field in the state of New York. The nucleus of this organization, consisting of three squadrons-the 1st, 3rd and 6th-was sent to Pope Field at Fort Bragg, N.C., for overseas briefing, there to be joined by a complement of men from various fields throughout the county.

At this juncture in history, the usual Army "snafu" was working in high gear. Among those men joining the command at Fort Bragg was a large contingent from Lowry Field, Denver, Colo.  Most of these men were trained in bombsight maintenance, power operated turrets and aircraft armament. There being little for men trained in these skills in a transport outfit, many were assigned to other duties. A large number of armament men were later trained as radio operators by the Signal Corps, at Karachi, India.

We were at Pope Field for about 10 days and were then transported by train to Charleston, S. C., our port of embarkation.

Our voyage was on the Brazil, which was one of the most active troopships of World War II. This ship made more than 30 overseas voyages from United States ports between early 1942 and early 1946. The food on our voyage generally was terrible and a great amount of yellow jaundice broke out among the troops. Two men were buried at sea.

Upon arrival at Karachi, we were transported to the Malir cantonment, about 25 miles out of Karachi. The quarters at this camp were quite comfortable, being of an adobe type construction. One of the drawbacks to this place was that all working parties had to be transported daily to Karachi Air Field.

After a few months at Malir, the 6th Squadron was moved to a tent camp on the edge of Karachi Air Field. Living conditions were quite dusty here and the mess personnel did a good job of their makeshift quarters. The mess hall and kitchen were constructed out of aircraft packing cases. There were advantages to this camp, however, including the nearness to the field and occasional passes into Karachi.

While at this location, the squadron was reinforced by a large contingent of men who had arrived from the States, including another large group of armament men from Lowry Field. I believe this group came over on the Mariposa.

After several months at Karachi, an advance contingent of our squadron consisting of pilots, radio men, ground crew personnel, communications personnel, etc., were sent ahead to our advanced base at Mohanbari, near Dibrugarh in Assam. A short time later a small guard contingent was assigned to a freight train carrying the squadron's equipment to the advanced base. The freight was soon followed by a troop train carrying the main body of the 6th Squadron.

To the best of my failing memory the trip across India took about 10 days and was quite an experience. The equipment had to be unloaded and reloaded several times in order to cross rivers and due to the change in the railroad gauges.

Our first camp at Mohanbari was on a site that had been abandoned by Indian forces a short time before, and was on the primitive side. It consisted of long barrack-type bashas surrounded by deep drainage ditches. All the other buildings in the area were of similar construction. The area was pockmarked with slit trenches and there were several antiaircraft machine gun emplacements, which were manned by squadron personnel. Yankee ingenuity soon provided us with a fine hot water bath house that was not only a luxury but a real necessity. At this time the officers were stationed at various cottages throughout the area. These cottages were the homes of the managers of the tea plantations.

Operations and other necessary offices and shops were situated near the air strip. The communications building and the tower were a few hundred feet from the main group of buildings. There were several machine gun emplacements in this area and an Indian anti-aircraft battery had several guns near the field. Within the time covered in this report, I believe the field was under enemy attack twice, causing one casualty among the enlisted men and injuries to several natives.

After several months in this area the entire squadron was moved to a new camp on the far side of the air strip. Earlier the air strip was grass, making it necessary to move our flight operations to the Chabua area-which had a paved strip-during the monsoon season. At the time of this move, natives with the aid of a rather ancient rock crusher were paving the entire strip with crushed rock.

The new camp consisted of several rows of thatched bashas built to accommodate eight men and their belongings. There were also several large buildings on this base, including a mess hall and kitchen (manned by native personnel under the direction of our mess officers and enlisted personnel), a large day room and a fine theater.

The 6th Squadron's record of achievement was the envy of the Assam Valley. Much of the credit of our fine showing (leading in missions and tonnage over the Hump) was due to the work of our ground personnel. Our maintenance men worked night and day keeping the overworked and overburdened aircraft in the air.

During this period we lost many crews and aircraft, due to enemy action and weather. Many men were lost to duty for several weeks at a time due to malaria and other sickness. Those men rotated stateside were replaced by new personnel who were constantly being absorbed in the outfit. 

The India-China airlift delivered approximately 650,000 tons of materiel to China at great cost in men and aircraft during its 42-month history

594  aircrew lost

1694  planes lost

In the spring of 1943, we started getting the new C-46 cargo plane.  The transition of training pilots onto this plane was a real problem. We experienced difficulty at high altitudes with a de-icing screen on the engines.

We had another group of celebrities to visit our base at Chabua. William Gargan, actor; Paulette Goddard, actress; and Joe E. Brown, actor and comic, visited our base. William Gargan and Paulette Goddard had lunch with us at our mess hall. Joe E. Brown gave his performance at the polo grounds - our transit area. He could put four golf balls in his mouth at one time!

By the middle of 1943, we must have had 1,500 men stationed at Chabua. This went up to over 2,000 in the early part of 1944. We started night flights over to China, weather permitting.





"The Hump" was a high altitude military aerial supply route between the Assam Valley in northeastern India, across northern Burma, to Yunnan province in southwestern China, flown during World War II. This operation was the first sustained, long range, 24 hour around the clock, all weather, military aerial supply line in history. It was a start-from-scratch operation. There was no precedent for it.

In April, 1942, China lost the Burma Road, its last remaining supply line to the outside world, due to the invasion of Burma by Japanese troops. The Road extended 425 miles from Lashio, Burma to Kunming, China. China's eastern seaports had previously been closed by Japanese invasion troops and the Japanese Navy.

The United States determined a continuous flow of military supplies into China had to continue to enable the Chinese Army, and the U.S. Army 14th Air Force (formerly the American Volunteer Group (AVGs) and the China Air Task Force) in China, to remain effective and keep pressure on Japanese occupational troops, thereby denying their use as fighting forces in other parts of the CBI or south Pacific. The only means left for getting supplies to China was by air. Due to the presence of Japanese Army and Air Force in northern Burma, the only available air route to China was via the Hump route.

The Hump route was an unlikely route for regular flight operations due to high terrain and extremely severe weather. It crossed a north-south extension of the main Himalaya Mountains that ran south through northern Burma and western China. On the very north end of the extension terrain exceeded 20,000 MSL in height. Average elevations lowered to the south but did not fall below 12,000 MSL for approximately 140 miles. The routes flown fell between these two extremes.

Northern Burma was largely uninhabited except for wild native tribes. In addition to mountains, it was covered by tropical rain forest with trees reaching over 150 feet in height. River gorges of the Salween, Mekong and Yangtze Rivers exceeded 10,000 feet in depth. Uncivilized headhunter tribes existed on the southern rim of the main Himalayas in China. Severe weather existed on the Hump almost year around. The monsoon season, with heavy cloudiness, fierce rain and embedded severe thunderstorms with turbulence severe enough to damage aircraft, existed from around May into October of each year. The late fall and winter flying weather was better with many VFR days. However, heavy ground fogs, with ground visibilities down to zero/zero, occurred almost nightly during the early winter, and severe thunderstorms still occurred over the route on an irregular basis. Winter winds aloft were extreme, often exceeding 100 MPH. Most night flying had to be done by instruments from takeoff due to lack of any ground or horizon references, until well into western China.

Early flights were basically daylight operations that were often forced to the northern portion of the Hump due to the presence of Japanese fighter aircraft to the south flying out of Myitkyina, Burma. Terrain heights in this area generally averaged around 15,000 to 16,000 MSL. This was the high Hump.

The Hump initially contained few enroute navigational aids. Enroute communications were poor, and air traffic control, except for local control towers, did not exist. Aeronautical charts were very unreliable and weather reporting was very poor. These conditions slowly improved after the arrival of the U. S. Army Airways Communications Service (AACS) in August 1943. Homing beacons existed at each airfield in India and China. These homers were severely affected by weather, night effect, and static electricity that built up on aircraft. Airport instrument approaches were normally conducted to airports on homing beacons and were non-precision approaches.

Living conditions in the Assam Valley were primitive. Personnel generally lived in tents or bamboo bashas. A few lived in tea plantation bungalows or in bungalow outbuildings. During the monsoon season bases were seas of mud. Sidewalks and tent foundations had to be elevated to stay above standing water. Temperatures during the monsoon season were extremely hot with very high humidity. Clothes and shoes mildewed within days.
Food was government issued C-ration. Personnel did not eat off base for sanitary reasons. Malaria and dysentery were prevalent diseases. Water could be consumed only after purification by iodine.

Maintenance of aircraft was a serious problem due to a shortage of parts and poor working conditions. The need for maintenance was high due to the need to fly aircraft well above their normal operating limits. Work during the monsoon season mostly had to be done at night due to the heat. There were no hangers for aircraft maintenance. All maintenance work had to be done in the aircraft parking areas. Make shift covers had to be placed over engines to complete engine work during the rainy season.

The first supply mission over the Hump occurred in April 1942, when the U.S. Army 10th Air Force in India contracted with the African Division of Pan-American Airways to handle the transport of 30,000 gallons of gasoline and 500 gallons of lubricants to China for use by the B-25s of the Doolittle Raiders. The Raiders had expected to refuel in China after their April raid on Tokyo. These Pan-American aircraft were also involved in the evacuation of northern Burma in May 1942.

Regular Hump operations began in May, 1942, with 27 aircraft (converted U. S. airline DC-3s, C-39s & C-53s) and approximately 1,100 personnel from New Malir Air Base, a British base located in the Sind Desert about 20 miles east of Karachi in western India. The aircraft and personnel were members of the First Ferry Group, provided by the U.S. Army Air Forces Ferry Command. The Group was attached to the U.S. Army 10th Air Force, newly established in India and headquartered in New Delhi, for logistical support. Their first regular Hump operations crossed India and eventually jumped off for the Hump leg of their flights from Dinjan, a British Air Base located in the upper Assam Valley. During April and May approximately 96 tons of supplies were delivered to China.
The 1st Ferry Group moved to the Assam Valley in August of 1942 where several bases were still under construction for the Hump operation. Initially these operations were conducted on sod and steel mat airstrips. On December 1, 1942, the Air Transport Command (ATC), formed on 7/1/1942 from the Ferry Command, established an India-China Wing, also headquartered in New Delhi. This ATC Wing was then assigned the primary mission of flying supplies over the Hump route to China. The first Wing commander was Colonel (later Brigadier General) Edward H. Alexander. The aircraft and support personnel of the 1st Ferry Group were transferred to this Wing.

The ATC was a world wide Command that reported directly to the War Department in Washington, DC rather than to Theater Commanders. The Wing assigned the immediate responsibility of flying the Hump to the Assam-China Group, headquartered at Chabua Air Base in the Assam Valley, under the command of Colonel Tom Rafferty, former commander of the 1st Ferry Group. In the fall of 1943 the Wing was divided into Sectors with the East Sector, based at Chabua under the command of Colonel Thomas O. Hardin, continuing with the responsibility for the Hump operation. Colonel Hardin shortly afterward implemented an all-weather, around the clock Hump operation. On October 15, 1943, command of the Wing was transferred to Brigadier General Earl S. Hoag. On January 21, 1944, Colonel Hardin was promoted to Brigadier General and on March 15, 1944, assumed command of the India-China Wing. At this time the Wing became the ATC India-China Division and the Sectors became Wings. Concurrently the Division Headquarters office was moved to the Hastings Mills complex in Calcutta. On September 3, 1944, Major General William H. Tunner became the fourth and final commander of the India-China Division.

Initially the Hump was flown with converted Douglas DC-3, C-39, C-53 and military Douglas C-47 aircraft. Loads over the Hump grew slowly until the arrival of Consolidated C-87s (converted B-24s) in December 1942 and the Curtiss C-46 in April 1943. The C-46 was a large super-charged twin-engine aircraft capable of flying faster, higher and carrying heavier loads than the C-47. The C-87, and its C-109 tanker modification, was a supercharged four engine aircraft capable of flying higher and faster but with smaller loads than the C-46. With these aircraft loads over the Hump reached 12,594 tons in December, 1943. Loads continued to increase in 1944 and 1945, reaching its maximum capacity in July 1945.

A military offensive against the Japanese Army began in February, 1944. By August, 1944, this offensive had forced the Japanese Army south far enough to enable the Hump operation to move south over the lower Hump with elevations generally not over 12,000 MSL. This move increased the efficiency of the operation. Douglas C-54 aircraft were added to the operation in the fall of 1944 for further efficiency. The C-54s were based in the Calcutta area and crossed the Hump on the south end. This reduced the need to haul materials by rail to the Assam Valley for transport.

In July, 1945, 77,306 tons of supplies were flown over the Hump to China. At that time the ATC was operating 622 aircraft, supported by 34,000 U. S. military personnel and 47,000 civilian personnel.

Loads carried over the Hump were many and verified. The primary load was gasoline, carried in 55 gallon drums and added to by siphoning from tanks of the carrying aircraft. Also carried were: small arms and ammunition, small vehicles, heavy equipment cut up and carried in pieces, truck and aircraft engines, bombs and aircraft machine gun ammunition, mortar shells, hospital equipment, personnel, 20' lengths of 4" pipe, etc.
All operations over the hump required use of oxygen. Oxygen was provided to crewmembers by a demand system which provided oxygen on inhale. It also had a constant flow and an emergency forced flow capability. Oxygen masks were very uncomfortable. Regulations required that oxygen be used above 12,000 MSL during daytime and above 10,000 MSL at night.

Initially search and rescue efforts to find downed aircraft were informal and spasmodic. About August, 1943, search and rescue took a more formal approach with the establishment of a Search and Rescue group by the ATC. Equipped initially with C-47 aircraft and later with B-25 aircraft, this group swept the mountains and jungles of Burma and the mountains of western China at low altitudes in search of downed aircraft. This group proved very successful in finding and helping downed crews return to safety. PT-17s, L-4s and L-5s of the group flew out many downed airman.

Operations ended over 3 ½ years later on November 15, 1945, when the Hump was officially closed down. The last full month of war-time operations was July, 1945. Military supply operations were discontinued in August, 1945. The final months of operations provided for the closing of China Hump bases and the moving of support personnel from China to India for transportation home.

The success of this operation did not come lightly. Official records of Search and Rescue were closed at the end of 1945. Their final records showed 509 crashed aircraft records "closed", and 81 lost aircraft still classified as "open". Three hundred twenty-eight (328) of the lost aircraft were ATC. Thirteen hundred fourteen (1,314) crew members were known dead, 1,171 walked out to safety, and 345 were declared still missing.

Aircraft from other Air Force Commands also operated over the Hump routes during this time period. The China National Airways Corporation (CNAC), a civilian Chinese-American airline, owned jointly by the Chinese government and Pan-American Airways, flew the route primarily in DC-3s, C-47s and late added C-46s during the entire period and were a very prominent part of the Hump operation.

Troop Carrier Command Squadrons, assigned to the U.S. Army 10th Air Force and flying C-47s, entered the theater in January 1943. Their primary mission was to support combat and supply operations in the Theater. They flew the Hump routes irregularly as required by their primary mission. Some of their squadrons flew the Hump regularly during the last few months of the war following the cessation of ground activities in Burma.

The 1st Air Commando Group (initially the 5318th Provisional Unit (Air)) was a special Air Force unit initially developed for action in Burma to support the British Chindit expeditions into Burma. The Group was comprised of Douglas C-47s, CG-41 Waco gliders, Noorduyn C-64 Norseman cargo aircraft, Vultee L-1 liaison aircraft, Stinson L-5 Sentinels, the Sikorsky Helicopter, the YR-4, the first helicopter to be used under combat conditions, P-51A Mustangs for fighter cover and B-25 medium bombers. This unit first saw action in March 1944. The Group was under the joint command of Lt. Col. Philip G. Cochran, a fighter pilot from North Africa, and Lt. Colonel John R. Alison, formerly with the 23d Fighter Group of the U.S. 14th Air Force in China.

The 20th Bomber Command, of the 20th Air Force, arrived in the theater in April, 1944, flying B-29s, very heavy bombers. Their home bases were located at Kharagphur and 4 other air bases about 75 miles west of Calcutta, India. They were accompanied by three Air Transport Squadrons that flew C-46s in logistic support of this Command. The 20th departed the theater in March, 1945. During this period these B-29s and C-46s regularly flew the Hump in support of their primary mission, which was to bomb the southern islands of Japan from their forward bases in Chengtu, China.

Four squadrons of the 1st Combat Cargo Group, also assigned to the 10th Air Force and flying C-47s, arrived in the theater beginning in May 1944. Additional Groups soon followed. Together with the Troop Carrier Squadrons their primary mission was to support American and Chinese Ground Forces in the 1944-45 Burma offensive. Supplies delivered included those necessary to keep the fighting forces on the ground operating effectively. Reluctant mules were often included among these supplies. Supplies were delivered by aerial drops where no landing fields were available. These aircraft also provided troop replacements and aerial evacuation of the sick and wounded, often operating out of fields in close proximity to enemy forces. Near the end of this offensive some of their units were also assigned to fly the Hump regularly. Also flying the Hump on an irregular basis were aircraft of the U.S. 14th Air Force, the British Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.

An additional significant aerial supply operation also took place in the theater during this time. Aircraft of the Troop Carrier Command, flying C-47s, provided aerial supply support to American and British stealth forces operating in Burma during 1943.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Flying the Hump

Flying the Hump
By Col. C.V. Glines 
March 1991, Air Force Magazine

When the Japanese closed the Burma Road, the route to China was over the Himalayas by air.

In mid-December 1941, in the wake of Japan's massive land, sea, and air offensive in the Far East and its attack on Pearl Harbor, the Allies had no doubts about the need to support China fully to keep it in the war. China's forces would tie down Japan on the mainland. China would provide bases for attacks on Japan. In any event, Gen. Claire Chennault's China Air Task Force, the "Flying Tigers," had to be supplied.

Suddenly, in March 1942, supplying China became immeasurably harder. Japanese forces cut the Burma Road--the only overland path to China--and all land supply ceased.

The Allies came back with a response unprecedented in scope and magnitude: They began to muster planes and pilots to fly over the world's highest mountain range. The route over the Himalayas from India to Yunnanyi, Kunming, and other locations in China was immediately dubbed "the Hump" by those who flew it.

Though relatively short, the route is considered the most dangerous ever assigned to air transport. The reason is apparent from this description contained in the official Air Force history:

"The distance from Dinjan to Kunming is some 500 miles. The Brahmaputra valley floor lies ninety feet above sea level at Chabua, a spot near Dinjan where the principal American valley base was constructed. From this level, the mountain wall surrounding the valley rises quickly to 10,000 feet and higher.

"Flying eastward out of the valley, the pilot first topped the Patkai Range, then passed over the upper Chindwin River valley, bounded on the east by a 14,000- foot ridge, the Kumon Mountains. He then crossed a series of 14,000-16,000-foot ridges separated by the valleys of the West Irrawaddy, East Irrawaddy, Salween, and Mekong Rivers. The main 'Hump,' which gave its name to the whole awesome mountainous mass and to the air route which crossed it, was the Santsung Range, often 15,000 feet high, between the Salween and Mekong Rivers."

Pilots had to struggle to get their heavily laden planes to safe altitudes; there was always extreme turbulence, thunderstorms, and icing. On the ground, there was the heat and humidity and a monsoon season that, during a six-month period, poured 200 inches of rain on the bases in India and Burma.

Fifty Years Ago

If the US was to conquer such obstacles, it would have to build an organization to ensure the smooth flow of planes, people, and supplies. The seeds of such an organization already existed. On May 29, 1941--fifty years ago this spring--the US Army had created the Air Corps Ferrying Command. Out of this small organization grew the US Air Transport Command, under the command of Maj. Gen. Harold L. George.

"It seems almost incredible," Gen. William H. Tunner remarked in his memoirs, "that up until three o'clock in the afternoon of May 29,1941, there was no organization of any kind in American military aviation to provide for either delivery of planes or air transport of materiel."

When the Japanese closed the Burma Road, the US devised an initial plan that called for sending 5,000 tons of supplies each month over the Hump into China as soon as possible. American C-47s delivered the first, small load of supplies in July 1942. It was a meager beginning. If the resupply effort was to be greatly expanded, airfields would have to be built, pilots would have to be trained, and transports would have to be manufactured and ferried to the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater.

The air transport task in the CBI fell first to Maj. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton, commander of Tenth Air Force. The Ferrying Command was to deliver seventy-five C-47s to the CBI, but some were diverted to support British forces in North Africa. Of the sixty-two that finally reached the theater, about fifteen were destroyed or lost, and many of the rest were out of service for long periods due to a shortage of parts and engines.

It was obvious that the theater air commander should not be responsible for a supply route reaching from factories in the US to destinations in China. On October 21, 1942, Air Transport Command (ATC) officially took over the task.

Operations under ATC began in India on December 1. The original small air transport unit was established as ATC's India-China Wing. As air transport activity increased, it became the India-China Division, comprising several wings. "Every drop of fuel, every weapon, and every round of ammunition, and 100 percent of such diverse supplies as carbon paper and C rations, every such item used by American forces in China was flown in by airlift," General Tunner said later.

Tonnage flown across the Hump increased slowly. Thirteen bases were established in India and six in China. Curtiss C-46s gradually replaced the Douglas C-47s and C-53s. Consolidated C-87s, the cargo version of the B-24, and some war-weary B-24s were added. In December 1942, 800 net tons were delivered to China. In July 1943, 3,000 tons were delivered. The target was 5,000 tons per month, but Gen. Chiang Kai-shek, the Chinese leader, wanted more. President Franklin D. Roosevelt personally ordered the target increased to 10,000 tons a month.

"Safer to Bomb Germany"

Increases in tonnage came at great cost. In the last six months of 1943, there were 155 accidents and 168 fatalities. General Tunner commented in his memoirs, perhaps somewhat facetiously, "It was safer to take a bomber deep into Germany than to fly a transport plane over the Rockpile from one friendly nation to another."

Aircrews were in short supply. Those on hand were flying more than 100 hours per month. Pilots, most of whom had never before flown a twin-engine aircraft, were quickly recruited from among basic flying training school instructors in the Air Training Command. They were sent to bases at Assam, Karachi, and later Gaya, India, for checkout in the C-46 Commando.

Accidents mounted. Spare parts soon were in short supply. Maintenance personnel were inexperienced and worked under severe handicaps. Col. Edward H. Alexander, commander of the India-China Wing, reported, "Except on rainy days, maintenance work cannot be accomplished because shade temperatures of from 100 degrees to 130 degrees Fahrenheit render all metal exposed to the sun so hot that it cannot be touched by the human hand without causing second-degree burns."

In November 1943, the ATC Ferrying Division opened the "Fireball" run from Florida to India. C-87s and, later, C-54s were put to work flying high-priority parts from the Air Service Command depot at Patterson Field, Ohio, to India. The aircraft were based at Miami, and crews were stationed at key points along the routes to Brazil, central Africa, and India.

Emergency shipments from the States could arrive in the CBI in as little as four and a half days after order placement.

In the organization of the complex Hump operation, a key player was Brig. Gen. Cyrus R. Smith, president of American Airlines, who served as chief of staff to General George. General Smith acted as a troubleshooter. In the fall of 1943, after the operation suffered many air accidents, he visited the theater to report on conditions.

"We are paying for it in men and airplanes," General Smith reported. "The kids here are flying over their head--at night and in daytime--and they bust [the aircraft] up for reasons that sometimes seem silly. They are not silly, however, for we are asking boys to do what would be most difficult for men to accomplish; with the experience level here, we are going to pay dearly for the tonnage moved across the Hump. . . . With the men available, there is nothing else to do."

One of the unforeseen requirements was for the establishment of a search-and-rescue organization. Many crews, forced to bailout or crash-land, struggled for weeks, despite injuries, burns, and disease, to find safety. Terrain was so rugged that survivors would spend an entire day traveling one or two miles.

In the beginning weeks, when a plane was down, the first available transport crew went in the first available aircraft to conduct the search. This quickly proved unsatisfactory.

At Chabua, Capt. John L. "Blackie" Porter, a former stunt pilot, started "Blackie's Gang" with two C-47s. His gang carried Bren .30-caliber machine guns. The copilot carried one in his lap, while the other was kept in the cargo area. They sometimes carried Thompson machine guns and hand grenades. In 1943, virtually every rescue of crew members was due primarily to the efforts of Blackie's Gang.

The Search for Sevareid

One of the first of Blackie's rescue missions was a search for the twenty crew members and passengers, including CBS correspondent Eric Sevareid, who had bailed out of a C-46 in the Naga hill country of northern Burma. The area was populated not only by Japanese, but also by headhunters [see "America's Headhunter Allies," June 1988 issue, p. 84]. The men were found, and supplies were dropped. Lt. Col. Don Flickinger, the wing flight surgeon, and two medics parachuted to assist the survivors. A ground party walked in and took them to safety.

After many such successes, the US created a special search-and-rescue organization with Captain Porter as its commander. He was lost in action in December 1943 while on a search mission.

In early 1944, tonnage to China reached the presidential goal of 10,000 tons per month. Soon, however, more was requested, and more was delivered. Brig. Gen. Earl S. Hoag, in charge of the India-China Wing at the beginning of that year, predicted that his men would deliver 77,000 tons during the last six months of 1944. His estimate was too conservative; more than twice that much was delivered. The rapid rise stemmed from a sharp increase in the number of aircraft and men, assigned to back up decisions made by President Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the Combined (UK-US) Chiefs of Staff at a June 1944 strategy meeting.

General Tunner took command of the India-China Division of ATC in August 1944. A 1928 West Point graduate and strict disciplinarian, he made many changes in the interest of efficiency. One significant innovation was the introduction of production line maintenance, the brainchild of Lt. Col. Bruce White, a former executive with Standard Oil of New Jersey in China.

Planes brought in for maintenance would pass through three to ten stations as if on a factory production line. At each station, a plane would go through different maintenance functions. A rigorous inspection completed the procedure. If approved, each aircraft would be test-flown before being sent back to the line.

The concept became standard practice throughout the Army Air Forces on bases with large numbers of a single type of aircraft.

When General Tunner arrived, pilots rotated out after 650 hours of flying time. Many pilots were flying as much as 165 hours a month in order to pile up the time and go home quickly. General Tunner's ,flight surgeon reported that fully half of the men were suffering from operational fatigue. Several accidents stemmed directly from such fatigue.

General Tunner immediately increased to one year the time a pilot would remain in the theater. He also increased the number of flying hours to 750. "It didn't make the pilots happy," the General wrote later, "but . . . it kept quite a few of them alive."

The Accident Rate Declines

He appointed Col. Robert D. "Red" Forman as chief pilot, and, as training improved, the accident rate began to decline. When General Tunner took over the India-China Division, four-engine Douglas C-54s were being introduced. They could carry three times the load of the C-47s and would eventually replace them and the C-46s. As the Air Force history states, the operation brought airlift into "the age of big business."

General Tunner felt that his hard-nosed management approach would result in improved efficiency and performance. "I had been sent to this command to direct American soldiers, and while I was their commander, by God, they were going to live like Americans and be proud they were Americans."

General Tunner inaugurated malaria-prevention spraying operations, using stripped-down B-25 "Skeeter Beaters." According to Tunner, this, combined with the use of repellents and mosquito nets, drove down the incidence of disease.

In 1944, General Tunner changed the route of the C-54 flights, creating a more direct flight to China. This placed the transports over 150 miles of Japanese-held territory and within range of Japanese fighters. To defend his aircraft, he requested and received fighter protection. "Enemy action was of little consequence" afterward, he reported.

Another area that needed improvement, as far as General Tunner was concerned, was the search-and-rescue capability, which he called "a cowboy operation." He appointed Maj. Donald C. Pricer, a Hump pilot, as commander of the unit and assigned to the job four B-25s, a C-47, and an L-5, all painted yellow. One of the first tasks was to pinpoint all known aircraft wrecks in the theater, the better to eliminate "duplication of work, for, after all, aluminum was scattered the length and breadth of the route."

It was during this period, moreover, that the helicopter was introduced into the theater and began to prove its potential as a rescue vehicle [see "The Skyhook," July 1988 issue, p. 104].

General Tunner ordered each base to establish a jungle indoctrination camp, with mandatory attendance for all new arrivals in the theater. Newcomers had to spend time in the jungle under the supervision of trained guides.

The General encouraged the introduction of competition into the operation and challenged each unit to beat its own records and those of other units. He authorized the publication of a newspaper, with prominent display given to tonnages carried over the Hump by individual units. He also encouraged the creation of press releases. One told of training elephants to load drums of gasoline quickly aboard aircraft. The photo that accompanied this story reached hundreds of newspapers.

The success of the Hump operation under ATC became apparent from statistics released on August 1, 1945. On that day, the command had flown 1,118 round trips, with a payload of 5,327 tons. A plane crossed the Hump every minute and twelve seconds; a ton of materiel was landed in China four times every minute. All of this was accomplished without a single accident.

When the war was over, Air Force historians added up the figures. The peak month was July 1945, when 71,000 tons of cargo were carried. Some 650,000 tons of gasoline, munitions, other materiel, and men had been flown over the Hump during the airlift, more than half of the tonnage delivered in the first nine months of 1945.

Besides helping to defeat Japan, the Hump operation was the proving ground for mass strategic airlift. The official Air Force history comments: "Here, the AAF demonstrated conclusively that a vast quantity of cargo could be delivered by air, even under the most unfavorable circumstances, if only the men who controlled the aircraft, the terminals, and the needed materiel were willing to pay the price in money and in men."

C. V. Glines is a regular contributor to this magazine. A retired Air Force colonel, he is a free-lance writer and the author of many books. His most recent article for AIR FORCE Magazine.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Some guy actually "crowdsourced" this: 

262 Names For Boobs 

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